Schuitmaker: Senate approves senior protection legislation

LANSING, Mich. —The state Senate approved an 18-bill legislative package Thursday to help protect Michigan’s seniors, encourage increased reporting of elder abuse and strengthen penalties for those convicted of abusing a senior.

“For too long the system has failed our most vulnerable adults as nearly 80,000 seniors have suffered, often in silence, from the torment of physical and financial abuses,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This senior protection legislation aims to put a spotlight on these criminal acts and bring their perpetrators to justice.”

Included in the package are Senate Bills 461, 464 and 466, sponsored by Schuitmaker. SB 461 would prohibit anyone who feloniously and intentionally kills a person from inheriting from their victim, and it adds abuse, neglect and exploitation as crimes, voiding an individual’s ability to inherit. SB 464 charges the state Department of Human Services, Michigan State Police, the Michigan attorney general, and the state Department of Services to the Aging to develop a model protocol for investigating vulnerable adult abuse within one year of enactment. SB 466 would create a senior medical alert for missing seniors, similar to an Amber Alert.

“Elder abuse is the fastest-growing crime in Michigan and current laws, frankly, do not do enough to protect seniors,” Gov. Rick Snyder said.  “I want to thank Republican and Democrat lawmakers in the Senate for working together to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to protect seniors from financial and physical abuse.”

Other measures include:
• Improving coordination between state and local authorities;
• Enhancing banking, annuity and insurance protections for seniors;
• Allowing vulnerable adults special witness protection when testifying against their abuser;
• Enhancing penalties for criminals who embezzle funds from a vulnerable adult;
• Establishing reporting requirements for suspected abuse and neglect or knowledge of abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities; and
• Allowing victims to give testimony via closed-circuit television or a prerecorded video.

Senate Bills 454-457, 459-468, 604-605, 706 and 777 have been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.